Once you have finished walking the Camino de Santiago, you must have a tour inside the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. Not only will you see amazing museum pieces and artifacts, you will get views from the upper level overlooking the Praza do Obradoiro, the main square. Obradoiro is Galician for workshop and this is what the plaza must have been during the construction of the cathedral. I couldn’t imagine the effort bringing in these large stones during ancient times.
On my last post, The Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Views From The Praza do Obradoiro, I focused on views of the cathedral from the plaza. However, there are other great buildings surrounding the plaza that I’ll focus on now. From the upper levels of the cathedral, here is the Praza do Obradoiro looking northwest. The Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos is on your right, and on your left is…
the Palacio de Rajoy or Ayuntamiento de Santiago, the town hall of Santiago de Compostela.
Ordered to be built by Archbishop Bartolomé de Rajoy in 1766, Charles Lemaur, a French engineer, oversaw the construction.
The building once housed a workshop, a prison, stored cannons, among other uses. Today, this is the current seat of the Municipality of Santiago de Compostela and the Presidency of the Government of Galicia.
The façade is neoclassical, a stark contrast to the Baroque style of the western or Obradoiro façade of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral.
Over the triangle pediment is Santiago Matamoros in battle.
Now, let’s go back to the cathedral and look toward a very famous building, rich in history for the Camino de Santiago: the Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos or the Catholic Kings Hostal, which sits on the north side of the plaza.
By the mid-1400s, the pilgrim hospice in Santiago de Compostela had deteriorated to an alarming point. It was evident that a new pilgrim hospice had to be built but acquiring the necessary funds proved difficult. Construction of the Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos finally began in 1501. Designed and supervised by architect Enrique Ega, it opened in 1509, and was completed about two years later.
Today, the Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos is part of the Spanish hotel chain, Parador. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, I would recommend walking inside and taking a look around as much as possible.
Now, let’s look across the Praza to the south side. This is the Colegio de San Jerónimo or San Xerome Colexio, founded in the 16th century for students who couldn’t afford to attend university.
The portal once belonged to the Hospital de la Azabachería. Today, the Colegio de San Jerónimo holds the rectorate of the university.
Outside the walls of the cathedral, mostly tourists posed for photos with these impersonators. It wasn’t quite my idea of good taste but maybe, that’s just me.
One more look at the cathedral, a proud moment from my first Camino, after I had walked 800 kilometers on the Camino Francés.
Now, let’s go to the center of the plaza where there are two plaques amongst the stones. I believe this one is to commemorate the 2004 Holy Year. If anybody has more information, please let me know.
In 1987, the Camino de Santiago was declared the first European Cultural Itinerary by the Council of Europe. In 1993, the pilgrimage route was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After I celebrated arriving to Santiago de Compostela after my Camino del Norte with a feast of Pulpo a la Gallega, I returned to the Praza to watch the sun set under beautiful skies.
If you haven’t seen it yet, please watch my video as I entered the Praza do Obradoiro at the end of my Camino del Norte. Please also read my post Entering the Praza do Obradoiro, Santiago de Compostela, A Pilgrim’s View.
I hope you enjoyed this post but I’m not finished my visit in Santiago de Compostela yet. On my next post, The Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Views From The Interior, we’ll go inside and visit the beautiful cathedral. Please join me.
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